Acer Aspire 5 evaluate: a $549 laptop computer that doesn’t fully suck

The Acer Aspire 5 is a really practical laptop computer. I used it as my main work driver for over per week, together with the whirlwind that was Black Friday weekend. It hundreds the pages I want it to. It handles a heavy share of tabs and apps with out burning itself up. It’s not seven kilos. Mainly, it’s a $549 laptop computer that doesn’t fully suck.

There was a time when that might’ve made this the very best finances laptop computer you should purchase. However that point has come to an finish, and the explanation rhymes with “bay-MD.”

This Aspire 5 mannequin has a four-core Intel Core i5-1035G1, the identical budget- and midrange-oriented processor that powers Microsoft’s Floor Laptop computer Go. Efficiency-wise, it will get the job performed — however its battery life is disastrous, and its built-in graphics are behind the occasions at this level. My recommendation: if you will get your arms on one, purchase the AMD mannequin with a six-core AMD Ryzen 5 4500U for a similar worth as an alternative.

The hinge of the Acer Aspire 5, with the word Aspire printed.

Acer says the Aspire 5 is for “a variety of consumers who wish to get probably the most bang for his or her buck.”

The Acer Aspire 5 fingerprint reader.

You should utilize the fingerprint reader to register with out a password.

Beginning with the design, which is similar throughout each fashions. I’d say the Aspire 5 seems superb — it’s no Dell XPS, but it surely’s nonetheless respectable from all angles. It is available in just a few colours together with silver and black. (I’ve the silver one, although I feel the black seems a bit fancier myself.) Most of it’s plastic, however the high cowl (the half individuals are almost definitely to see) is aluminum. There’s some flex within the keyboard and the display screen, however not a lot that I nervous about snapping the factor in half. It’s neither ultraportable nor overly clunky, weighing 3.7 kilos (1.8 kg) and measuring 14.3 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches. College students ought to be aware that whereas the Aspire isn’t terribly heavy, its breadth makes it a little bit of a chore to slot in a standard-sized backpack alongside a load of books and binders.

Just a few different touches you would possibly discover: Just like the higher-priced Swift line, the Aspire 5 has a lustrous heart hinge with “Aspire” printed throughout it, which is a pleasant little bit of aptitude. The bezels, although, are fairly massive and really plastic-looking. The highest one is especially hefty.

All honest sufficient. At $549, I’ll take it. However it’s price noting that you just don’t must spend all that rather more to get considerably larger construct high quality if you happen to’re keen to compromise on display screen measurement. The Acer Swift 3 (if you happen to’ll take a 14-incher) is a nicer-looking, slimmer, and sturdier-feeling machine. Its Ryzen 5 4500U mannequin is simply $80 costlier than this Aspire 5 on Acer’s web site (and is even cheaper when it’s on sale).

The Acer Aspire 5 from the back, half open.

The highest cowl is “sandblasted aluminum.”

The power of such a big chassis, although, is that there’s room for a helpful port choice. In complete, now we have one USB 3.1 Sort-C Gen 1, two USB 3.1 Gen 1, one USB 2.0, one HDMI 2.0, and one Ethernet, in addition to an influence port. That’s complete, although you’ll must look elsewhere if you happen to’re looking for Thunderbolt help, a typical omission on this worth vary.

The show is a little bit of a dud on paper. I measured it as protecting simply 66 p.c of the sRGB gamut and 50 p.c of AdobeRGB. It additionally maxes out at 220 nits of brightness. These are each mediocre as laptop computer screens go, although they’re not horrible for the class; color-wise, the Aspire really scored barely higher than the IPS panel on the Swift 3, in addition to the Asus VivoBook 15.

The Acer Aspire 5 half open from the right side.

3.97 kilos, 0.71 inches thick

The viewing expertise wasn’t as unhealthy as these metrics would possibly point out. The matte panel did an excellent job of decreasing glare; even round 90 p.c brightness, I may use the machine outside with out a trouble. And whereas Netflix and YouTube appeared drab subsequent to costlier screens, media consumption continues to be very doable. (Particularly as a result of the audio is sort of good. It has a pleasant encompass high quality and might simply fill a room — I’d put it on par with a good exterior speaker. I may really hear the bass and percussion in my music.)

The Aspire has a pleasant keyboard. It’s backlit and quiet with respectable journey. (It’s mushier than it’s clicky, if in case you have robust emotions about that.) There’s a numpad on the correct aspect, which is a pleasant characteristic, but it surely does push the touchpad to the left. This was irksome for me as somebody with small arms. The realm that was pure for me to the touch with my proper hand was the right-click space. I needed to deliberately stretch over to left-click, and I by no means actually received used to it — even after per week and a half, I used to be nonetheless by accident right-clicking on a regular basis. There’s additionally an embedded fingerprint reader within the top-left nook of the touchpad, however its location wasn’t tremendous handy for me as a righty and I by no means ended up utilizing it a lot.

In fact, efficiency is what actually makes or breaks a finances laptop computer. The bottom Aspire 5 configuration, listed at $399.99 on Acer’s web site, can include a Core i3-1005G1 or an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U (each with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD). There are a variety of fashions at totally different worth factors, together with some with touchscreens. The system we’re taking a look at is listed at $549.99 on Amazon and has Intel’s four-core Core i5-1035G1, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. A system with the identical specs and a six-core Ryzen 5 4500U is at present listed on Acer’s web site for a similar worth (although it’s exhausting to search out and appears to be offered out on Amazon as of this writing).

The Acer Aspire 5 half open from above.

The touchpad helps Microsoft Precision gestures.

It’s essential to caveat right here that I haven’t tried the AMD system but — however the six-core 4500U is a formidable chip. Within the $799 HP Envy x360 13 (which additionally has 8GB of RAM), it simply delivered the implausible efficiency I’d anticipate from a Core i7, and it may even run Overwatch on its Excessive settings at over 60fps. Make no mistake: the Intel Aspire 5 didn’t give me any issues throughout my varied workplace work, social media, emailing, and the like. However efficiency wasn’t fairly as zippy because it was on the AMD Envy. And I received the sense that the factor was chugging — I may nearly at all times hear the followers spinning, even after I was simply operating just a few Chrome tabs. I wouldn’t have wished to attempt something extra intense (and in contrast to Intel’s new Iris Plus graphics, its UHD graphics aren’t a good selection for something however the lightest gaming).

That’s earlier than we even speak concerning the battery life. This Aspire 5 averaged 4 hours and 49 minutes of my day by day workload (12-15 Chrome tabs, Slack, Spotify streaming, and occasional Zoom calls on the Battery Saver profile at 200 nits of brightness). That’s not good, and it’s particularly not sufficient for college students who’re out and about all day. AMD processors, in contrast, have been killing it on battery: the 4500U-powered Envy may churn out eight hours of my typical workload whereas the Swift 3 with a Ryzen 7 4700U received as much as seven hours, and the 4800U-powered IdeaPad Slim 7 achieved a monstrous 13 and a half hours.

Ultimate be aware: there’s some bloatware. I received some annoying Norton pop-ups and occasional notifications from varied different applications that got here loaded onto the Aspire. These aren’t the tip of the world at this worth level, however be aware that you will have to take a while to uninstall if the alerts are bothering you.

The Acer Aspire 5 open from the front.

The Aspire 5 comes with an set up package that you need to use so as to add a hard-disk drive.

So, look, the Aspire 5 will get the job performed. It really works. It does what you want it to (not less than till the battery runs out). There are even a pair areas the place it’s punching above its weight class — the audio is nice, and it’s good to have a fingerprint reader.

But when you will get all these advantages plus a six-core AMD processor for a similar (or a comparable) worth, I see no purpose to not go that route as an alternative if you happen to’re wed to the 15-inch system. AMD techniques are exhausting to search out, however I like to recommend digging round or ready till one turns into accessible. And if you happen to’re keen to spend a bit extra for the Ryzen-powered Swift 3, you’ll see a noticeable distinction in construct high quality and portability in addition to a number of additional hours of battery life. For college students and on-the-go staff, I feel that’s greater than price the fee.

The Acer Aspire 5, closed, from the left side.

You get what you pay for (however different fashions can provide you extra).

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